On January 6, 1997, Saint Leo College’s newly appointed president, Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., stood before faculty and staff to describe the future he pictured for the school. "I see great potential here and I can envision Saint Leo being the great Catholic university of the southeastern United States," he said. "We have the potential to combine the resources of a university with a small college’s strengths of community and commitment to each student’s learning and development."
In the years since Dr. Kirk arrived at Saint Leo, his vision––for Saint Leo to become a leading Catholic teaching university––has guided the efforts of its faculty and staff. Enrollments have doubled and graduation rates have improved significantly. Seven new buildings have been constructed, seven others purchased, and several more extensively renovated and refurbished.
Today the university’s curriculum is more academically rigorous than at any time in the school’s history. Student satisfaction, graduation rates, learning outcomes, and student engagement are constantly and consistently improving, as measured by national comparative studies. During Dr. Kirk’s tenure, eight intercollegiate athletic teams have been added, all campus residential students are issued laptop computers, and new technologies are employed online and at all teaching locations to enhance the teaching and learning environment.
Dr. Kirk places a high priority on community service, so the university sponsors a community service day each semester with hundreds of students, faculty, and staff volunteering their time at local charities. In addition, every athletic team engages in multiple service projects each year.
Dr. Kirk received his bachelor's degree in history and his master’s degree in administration and supervision from Kean University in New Jersey. He earned his doctorate from Rutgers University. Dr. Kirk wrote his dissertation on small college survival strategies. He began his administrative career at Kean University where he served as assistant director of the Division of College Development and director of alumni affairs. He also served as director of Development and Planning for Raritan Valley Community College and directed the college’s off-campus, non-credit and curriculum development programs. Dr. Kirk moved on to be executive vice president and chief financial officer of College Misericordia in northeastern Pennsylvania. In 1984 he was named president of Keuka College in upstate New York.
Inducted into the Saint Leo University Hall of Fame in 2011, Dr. Kirk has received honors and awards from Rutgers University, Kean University of New Jersey, and Keuka College. He serves as a member of the board of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Council of Presidents, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ (NAICU) Committee on Accountability. He is past chair of the president’s council of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF), past vice president of the Florida Association of Colleges and Universities Board of Directors, and he currently serves on several corporate and community boards. Dr. Kirk served two terms as vice chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II President’s Council and the NCAA Executive Committee. An avid athlete and former college football coach, he competes in triathlons and in 1995 completed a cross-country bike ride.